Written by GOOD DOCS intern Emma Kuli
Happy Lesbian Visibility Week! We wanted to highlight five powerful films that feature queer women and sapphic people. This week is a chance to uplift queer voices. Celebrate lesbian representation and open conversations about intersectional identity by bringing these films to your campus or organization.
All of these films are available in a variety of streaming and purchase options through GOOD DOCS for events, library collections, or smaller group screenings!
Directed by Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Vivian Kleiman, this film tells the story of five LGBTQ cartoonists- Alison Bechdel, Jennifer Camper, Howard Cruse, Rupert Kinnard, and Mary Wings. These trailblazing artists resisted censorship and displayed tremendous courage and conviction in providing an uncensored window into queer lives from the 1970s onward at a time in which there was no other genuine queer storytelling in popular culture.
This feature documentary traces the untold stories of LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers who have fled intense persecution and have resettled in the United States. It follows Subhi, a gay man who escaped terrorist death threats in Syria, finding his voice as a leader for refugee rights in the U.S., lesbian couple Cheyenne and Mari who fled brutal harassment in Angola to face uncertain asylum through the American immigration courts, and gender non-conforming Junior from the Congo struggling to create a livelihood and secure basic housing. Despite legal and financial support from American organizations, these individuals must process past trauma and navigate the cultural and economic landscape of the San Francisco Bay Area.
BORN THIS WAY is an intimate portrait of the underground gay and lesbian community in Cameroon— where more people are sent to prison for homosexuality than any other country in the world. This award-winning documentary follows several LGBT youth both inside and outside the walls of The Access Center, a safe haven for LGBT Cameroonians, located in an unmarked building on Doualaʼs busiest street. As the locus of gay rights advocacy in Cameroon, the Center functions as a site of hope, culture, and celebration for those living with the constant fear of losing their job, home, and family. Without stereotyping the African gay experience, BORN THIS WAY tells the unique stories of LGBT Cameroonians with candor and dignity. The film elucidates an African country at the crossroads of tradition and modernity, while also highlighting the struggle for universal human rights, the desire for companionship, and the necessity of community.
Maunakea is the most sacred site in Hawaiian culture and has been under threat by the construction of the largest telescope in the Northern Hemisphere. For Native Hawaiians, the protection of this site is a lineal duty. THIS IS THE WAY WE RISE offers an exploration into the creative process, following queer Native Hawaiian slam poet and activist, Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio as her calling to protect sacred sites atop Maunakea, Hawai`i reinvigorates her art.
ONCE A FURY profiles members of The Furies, a 1970s radical collective that developed a lesbian-feminist politic to correct what they called the "zig-zag and haphazard" thinking of the straight women's movement. The collective was thus formed in resistant counterpoint to the larger women’s movement, much as that larger womenʼs movement itself was formed in counterpoint to the male-dominated New Left of the 1960s. That is, just as activists in the women’s movement experienced sexism in the New Left, lesbian activists experienced homophobia in the women’s movement. Such activists formed collectives like the Furies. The collective was intense and short-lived: twelve women began the group, worked together, and then broke up in under two years. In that short time, they wrote and published a widely read newspaper (The Furies) that advanced their ideology and still seems relevant half a century later. The newspaper lives on in libraries, in private collections, in archives, and on the web.